When InBody, a fast-growing global medical device company based in South Korea, looked to expand its U.S. business to the East Coast, executives considered the usual suspects – Greater Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
Greater Philadelphia checked all the boxes when it came to accessing a growing cluster of top hospitals and medical facilities, proximity to large metropolitan areas, a transportation network, and affordability.
But there was one thing that the InBody Co. Ltd. team didn’t anticipate, said Chief Executive Officer Rami Lee, was the lengths that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the Commonwealth) and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the Chamber) would go to make the company feel welcome.
“They endeavored to embrace us wholeheartedly. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia worked as if they were integral members of our team. Our board members even questioned whether we should compensate them for their exceptional assistance. This left a positive impression; they genuinely sought to attract a foreign company to their state.”
In January 2024, InBody’s new subsidiary InBody BWA Inc. cut the ribbon on its East Coast office in Audubon, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. The office will be home to professional medical sales and marketing teams selling to hospitals and doctors’ offices. That’s a new market for a company that has traditionally sold its body composition devices to fitness and training centers, wellness programs, and other customers, including the U.S. Marine Corps.
MAKING IT EASY FOR COMPANIES TO LOCATE OR EXPAND HERE
The decision to open the office in the Greater Philadelphia region underscores the importance of attracting new companies – and the ways that the Commonwealth and the Chamber will support companies considering a move.
“The services we provided InBody are the same type of services we provide to any company looking to move or expand in Greater Philadelphia – whether they’re the next state over or halfway across the globe,” said James Medaglio, Director of Business Expansion and Attraction, the Chamber.
This effort included an introduction to a local law firm with a Korean-speaking attorney, an introduction to an HR firm to connect with talent in the region, an introduction to bankers, and general business and PR guidance. An authorized representative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development in Seoul, meanwhile, was the person who first introduced the project to the Commonwealth.
“We’re thrilled that InBody has chosen Montgomery County for its North American medical operations center,” said David Briel, Deputy Secretary Office of International Business Development for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development. “Pennsylvania has so much to offer foreign companies: a strong infrastructure, skilled workforce and prime access to markets. Having an innovative company like InBody choose the Commonwealth is a big win, and we look forward to working with them to help them thrive in the coming years.”
InBody was founded in 1996, offering a device that was used to test a person’s body mass index (BMI). InBody’s body composition analyzers provide insights into a person’s muscle mass and body fat. This was especially useful for people in gyms, workout facilities, spas, and those in training. Increasingly, these devices have evolved to provide insights into other body composition metrics that InBody believes can help people detect afflictions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
“It is a very unique product that can show what is going on inside of your body,” said Lee, who joined the company 21 years ago and previously served as Head of Research and Development, overseeing the company’s European operations. “If your body composition is broken, then something has happened to your body. Our devices are for everybody. They can be used for children and elderly people; athletes and ICU patients.”
In December 2023, InBody announced that its body composition analyzers had completed 100 million tests. Lee said the company has several thousand research papers showing the increasing benefit of using its products for preventative medicine, aside from its traditional BMI measuring utilization.
“With diabetes patients, you can see what’s going on with their kidneys,” she said. “With heart patients, you can see what’s going on with their hearts, and it can detect early symptoms. That was our theory and our hypothesis.”
GREATER PHILADELPHIA: ‘A PERFECT MATCH’
InBody established a U.S. subsidiary years ago in Cerritos, Calif., to serve the commercial market. But now Lee sees an opportunity to serve the higher-end medical market. That’s what spurred the decision to create the new East Coast subsidiary, InBody BWA, in Greater Philadelphia.
“We think we now have enough proof,” she said. “But selling to medical markets takes more time. That’s why we decided to split the sectors. We haven’t been focused on the medical market until now because it wasn’t a cash cow. As a growing company, it was a smart way to focus on something that could yield profits quickly. But now is the time to focus on the medical market.”
Lee said InBody’s annual revenue has jumped to an estimated $160 million (US) from less than $10 million (US) when she started 21 years ago. The company has more than 700 employees and 11 subsidiaries around the world.
Lee was first introduced to Pennsylvania when, as a university student, she visited her aunt at Penn State. “I had a really good impression of the Greater Philadelphia area – that it was safe and had lots of nature.”
That impression planted a seed that bore fruit decades later with the new office in Audubon.
The Greater Philadelphia region is a “medical town,” she said. Beyond this, it offers an exceptional quality of life that Lee finds attractive.
She loves the trees in the area and said she appreciated that the eagle symbolizes the City of Philadelphia and that “it’s the beginning of the U.S.A.” as InBody BWA is a new beginning for the company.
“Symbol-wise, it’s a match for us,” she said. “Philadelphia truly was a perfect match.”
For more information about how the Greater Philadelphia region and the Chamber can help your company, visit the Select website or contact James Medaglio at [email protected]. To learn more about the Philadelphia roots of how the bald eagle became the symbol of the United States, see this piece from the city’s own Temple University.